To mark 100 years of Disney, the fundraiser and collaborative creative campaign that aims to champion the next generation of talent has officially launched at the RCA — with a piece that pays homage to Virgil Abloh.

Photography by Vianney Le Caer

Photography by Vianney Le Caer

It has been 100 years since Disney first embarked on its mystical, enchanting journey, and to celebrate, they are passing that magic on. Launched today, the Create 100 campaign is a global celebration of creativity and an empowering fundraiser to benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation. Marking a century of Disney storytelling, Create 100 brings together some of the world’s biggest names and most innovative visionaries across fashion, film, music, and art with a common goal: to support the granting of life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Donating art pieces and experiences inspired by their connection to characters and storylines across Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century, the 100 creatives embody the spirit of Disney and continue its legacy of inspiring future generations.

Leading up to a global auction to benefit Make-A-Wish, contributions from Beyoncé, Christian Louboutin, Adidas, and more influential creatives will be revealed throughout the summer — ranging from musical elements to comic books to recreations of movie props and beyond. The first piece to be unveiled, the Structural Sorcerer — a Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey Sculpture, is a life-size 3D sculpture designed by ALASKA ALASKA in partnership with Virgil Abloh Securities. Based on Virgil Abloh’s 2018 illustration of Mickey Mouse for the character’s 90th birthday, it pays homage to the late designer’s eternal legacy. In line with Create 100’s mission to inspire young talent, the piece will be on display at the Royal College of Art until the auction.

Photography by Vianney Le Caer

Photography by Vianney Le Caer

Sitting down to speak with the RCA’s Head of Programme, MA Fashion, Zowie Broach, it is easy to feel the energy surrounding the project. “It’s this beautiful, modern concept in its materiality and construct and yet, it’s still really joyful and playful,” she tells me. “Mickey as the Sorcerer is still very much there, and yet, somehow, it positions itself around modern materiality, and modern sculpture and its engagement. And even when you touch it, it’s not solid, it’s still got this kind of flexibility. His energy and spirit feel very much kind of caught in how his team have taken his 2D drawing into this 3D.”

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a very ancient story that’s been told many times across many different areas,” she continues. “It is a very memorable and beautiful story about failure, and allowing it to continue, letting the Sorcerer’s Apprentice play. For me, I can see the cheeky play that you saw with Virgil, with his WET GRASS mats, for example. I think he’s got that spirit that we see in Disney storytelling, that mythological kind of teaching.”

When the Sorcerer’s Apprentice needed a temporary home, the RCA made perfect sense. With a deep connection to Virgil Abloh, a mission to empower and nourish emerging talent, and a cross-disciplinary approach to its programmes, the school embodies the sculpture’s essence. “How I see it,” muses Broach, “is that the Sorcerer’s workshop is the RCA.”

During COVID and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests that fought for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others, Virgil Abloh began working with the RCA on virtual talks. This relationship continued to expand with a scholarship in his name designed to financially support Black British students. He was also granted a visiting honorary professorship.

The scholarship, which will see its first recipients begin their studies in September, is a reminder of his legacy and serves as a medium in which his powerful energy can be transferred to the next generation of talent. “Virgil’s journey is about advocacy for Black talent,” says Broach. “He has that kind of energy that doesn’t belong to one country or one label or one discipline. He is a global ambassador. Putting that scholarship down, as he has done in many other places [along with] other opportunities, made sense to support the advocacy of Black British talent coming through the RCA — encouraging diversity, fostering growth, and allowing that excellence and their voices to be in that space and be inspired by him and his energy. But as we go forward, we’ll hear more, because what’s going to be more powerful than me talking about it is to hear [the recipient’s] voice and how it’s influenced them.”

In the way that Mickey was given the space to experiment and explore, Broach emphasises the importance of creatives to have a similar safe space: “As designers, we can’t be controlled by the tools, we have to use our imagination. One might say that Mickey was controlled by magic, but I would say it was a chaotic magic — a beautiful [depiction] of failure and learning through that.”

Photography by David Parry

Photography by David Parry

So much has happened in the 100 years since Disney’s inception, and even in the five years between Abloh’s drawing and the 3D sculpture that stands proudly in the RCA. “When you pull back and think about change, and you think about where we’re going, we have to have the urgency of the immediate, but the wisdom to realise where we are moving to on a much bigger scale,” Broach explains. “We need things that last for 100 years. We need those strong members of our creative community. But other things don’t need to be the same. We need different volumes, like a symphony. Sometimes in music there’s an instrument that only comes in for little bits, it comes and goes. Or in nature — you might have your big oak tree, your Disney, but there are other things like mushrooms that pop up, come and go, and are more magical in different ways. Why we’re here is about making sure spaces allow exploration and allow the Sorcerer’s Apprentice to play with the magic. And the more companies like Disney and Virgil Abloh Securities that support those platforms, will begin to allow the speedboats to become more powerful than the big boat.”

Continuing the chain of empowering the next generation, all of the creatives chosen by Create 100 for this project have selected an emerging talent to do the same. Virgil Abloh Securities and ALASKA ALASKA asked multidisciplinary artist Favour Jonathan, who created a breathtaking sculpture interpreting Dr. Facilier from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. For 100 years, Disney has inspired artists, musicians, filmmakers, and more to unlock their imagination and reach the height of their potential. These creatives have gone on to inspire more, and so on and so on.

The ripple effect can be felt globally, and even after a century of magic, Disney’s influence is only getting started.